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Postcards from Britain Received?

This might be a one-of-a-kind question, but I'm wondering if other travelers to London and/or Scotland have noticed that postcards sent to the U.S. are not necessarily received. It has been 7 weeks since I've returned from my travels, and 12 out of 20 cards sent are still missing. I wonder if the international stamps that can be purchased in souvenir shops with postcards are actually valid. Some of my cards were dropped in the red Royal Mail boxes and others were given to hotel desk clerks to mail for me. Could either of these created the problem?

If anyone else has experienced this, I would surely like to know. As of now, I have not received an answer from the Royal Mail website or from the manager of one of my hotels. I'm thinking I will not be sending postcards in the future.

As an aside, I very much enjoyed driving through the Scottish Highlands in mid-May and highly recommend it to others -- beautiful, intriguing landscape and sites, lovely people, easy drive.

Posted by
998 posts

That's so funny to see your topic because my friend and I just got back from our trip 2 months ago. She just told me tonight that her mom just received the postcard she mailed to her from Windsor so it took about 2 months to get this postcard as well. That's so ridiculous!

Posted by
4734 posts

Did you send it 'International Economy' - that takes typically 6 weeks to get to North America, as it may go by sea.

If you spent 15p more, it would go 'International Standard' which is delivered anywhere round the world in 5 to 7 working days.

These are in effect the new names for sea and airmail.

Posted by
424 posts

I mailed two postcards from Eton last month. I purchased the (airmail) stamps from the mini post office inside the grocery store (whose name I forget) on the Main Street. The cashier/postal clerk took my stamped postcards and they arrived in the US within a week.

Sorry to hear that yours have been slow.

Edit: now that I see Marco's post below, I recall that the clerk did also put "airmail" stickers on the postcards in addition to the stamps.

Posted by
17 posts

Thank you for your responses. It's good to know that perhaps mine are still in transit, but my goodness, talk about snail mail!
I still hope to get a response from the Royal Mail, especially about those 1.25 pound stamps.

Posted by
115 posts

This subject caught my eye as I mailed postcards from Scotland early May and NONE of them have been received. I purchased the stamps at giftshop near Holyrood Palace I did request stamps for travel to US. I handed to a lady in what appeared to be a postal annex in the town of Callendar. I am happy to hear that perhaps they are just taking a long journey here.

Posted by
4734 posts

As well as the stamp itself, an airmail sticker should also be stuck on the postcard. Both should be provided.

Posted by
1040 posts

I had the same thing happen to me in Sicily in April. When I bought the postcards the clerk offered me electronic, bar-coded stamps. I verified with her that they were for the US, but they never arrived. Perhaps it is because I didn't specify airmail. So I'm hoping they show up much later, coming via boat mail.

Posted by
12970 posts

The cost of a stamp needed to send a postcard to the US is 1.17 GBP. I'll see if the cards mailed from London will arrive in the next week. I dropped my cards in red boxes or at the post office.

Posted by
396 posts

The postcards we mailed at the gift shop at Blenheim Palace around May 25 haven't arrived yet. We used the international stamp. Thanks for posting this, and good to know.

Posted by
12970 posts

Germany still has the cheapest postage required to send a post card to the US. From Germany 90 cents, Austria 1,70 Euro, France 1,30 Euro, the UK 1.17 GBP.

Posted by
12970 posts

Four out of the five postcards mailed out on July 6 and July 7 from London arrived today. There is still one more to arrive.

Posted by
17 posts

Interestingly, a postcard mailed May 13 from Scotland arrived in California the 2nd week of July -- with a postmark from the Philippines! It contained a handwritten "airmail" request, but no blue sticker. In case that's the problem, be sure to pick some up from the post office. And we're still awaiting delivery of 10 others!

Posted by
115 posts

Hey Susan thanks for your post. Perhaps that is what has happened to my post cards mailed in May and not arrived in California yet. I just used the stamps that I purchased in gift shop for mail to US. When I dropped them in a small town postal annex the lady asked if I wanted an airmail sticker on them and I just said yes. Not knowing you need that. Guess my other mistake was thinking she was asking me if she should put one on. Wonder if they have a cost over and above the proper postage to the US.

Posted by
8889 posts

Dumb Question. Did you put USA as the last line of the address?

Posted by
12970 posts

All my post cards mailed from London, France, Austria and Germany arrived, The last card mailed on 7 July came in on 13 July. Three from Paris had insufficient postage, 85 cents instead of the correct amount. I had already dropped them in before I found out the correct amount. All had USA written on the last line.

Posted by
440 posts

I always use Airmail stamps usually takes a few days to arrive. The quickest I can recall was one i sent from Oman to UK it arrived in two days.

Posted by
115 posts

Update on delayed post cards. So postcards posted first week in May in Callander, Scotland with correct postage to U.S. AND airmail sticker, as well as all address details, finally arrived this week via the Philippines. Interesting.

Posted by
1 posts

I was sent a postcard from The Yorkshire Dales to Australia recently which also went via The Philippines and took around 2 months. The postcards for her children sent from another part of the UK also went via Philippines but arrived 3 weeks earlier. Several parts of the stamps and postage on my card were blacked out with thick texta. Sticker from the Philippines says "charge collected" taxe Philippines

Posted by
1 posts

My sister forwarded me your blog out of interest. I mailed my family postcards from Plymouth England and it took them two months to arrive in the USA (and they did have USA in the address). They took a side trip through the Philipines and were reposted in that country (all of them). I think they got loaded on a slow boat. I paid extra for airmail postage so go figure. I am glad they arrived finally.

Posted by
259 posts

When I mail postcards from England to the US, I buy stamps at a Royal Mail office (in villages) and affix an "Air Mail" sticker. The postcards arrive within a week.

Posted by
396 posts

The postcards we mailed at the gift shop at Blenheim Palace around May 25 arrived around August 10. We used the international stamp. The postmarks indicated that they traveled through the Philippines.

Posted by
7988 posts

Mailed post cards with international 1£ stamp in a red mailbox on the street, arrived in US in four days.

Posted by
3 posts

I was just in the UK - England and Wales in June and the beginning of July. I started sending postcards as soon as I arrived. I bought the postcards and the stamps from the gift shops at tourist locations. I dropped them in the red cylindrical mail boxes. Out of about 30 postcards, only 1 has arrived and it was one of the last ones I mailed. The Royal Mail Website is useless since you have to have proof of mailing and purchase and honestly, who would have proof of mailing a postcard? Who would think the Royal Mail would have such difficulty with postcards? Properly addressed, international postcard stamp, USA noted.

The reason I don't do electronic postcards is because it is not the same as receiving a handwritten keepsake / souvenir. The whole idea of using electronic media for cards is disheartening to me. Everyone loves getting things in the mail - packages, letters, postcards. Don't tell me you don't.

I just mailed 50 postcards to USA recipients for an event and all were received within 3 days of dropping them off in a big blue mailbox.

Well , at least I know I'm not alone in this mess. Next time I'll just bring the stamped postcards home.

Posted by
631 posts

too many references about Philippines for it to be an odd mis-sort. So I did a bit of googling and found the same complaint on other forums. Clearly something odd is going on. Royal Mail was recently privatised and the cynical side of me is wondering whether they have set up some deal to have international mail sent in bulk to the Philippines for sorting, it could work out much cheaper than paying workers in UK.

Those of you feeling let down/ ripped off who have saved evidence of mail sent from UK which arrived with Philippines markings could scan it and have it sent to the member of parliament who runs the committee that oversees Royal Mail. If enough was sent she might ask questions, and she doesn't need to use the dreadful "customer services" route!

Would need someone in the RS organisation to collate it all first. If that person exists PM me and I'll give you the email address.

Posted by
3 posts

Oddly enough, I received another postcard yesterday, bringing the total to 2-30.
It has a sticker over the stamp indicating it was sent to the Philippines!

Still waiting for around 28 more postcards to get to me here in California.

Posted by
681 posts

I used touchtone app for this trip. It was fun to include my own pictures and my family loved it. It took no time at all, was convenient and overall pretty affordable.

Posted by
1 posts

Created an account just to discuss this, haven't found answers anywhere! We were in London in June and mailed 6 postcards on June 21st. All have arrived in the US in the last week with the same indications that they went through the Philippines.

Additionally, on at least one of the postcards from the British Museum, the word "British" on the back of the postcard had been redacted, as well as the word "England" at the bottom of the card where it indicated it was printed.

What on Earth is going on with the mail that is sending postcards through the Philippines, and allowing words like British and England to be redacted!?

Posted by
2664 posts

To anna16459, you didn't mention having purchased the blue airmail stickers. If you didn't get any and put one on each postcard then will take a longer getting here.

Posted by
631 posts

I had the idea that newly privatised Royal Mail was routinely shipping international mail beyond europe to the Philippines to be sorted cheaper than here. I have now consulted my postman, he says that almost all mail is sorted by machines , only those that the machine can't read get passed to humans. The success rate on UK mail is very high BUT the UK postcode system is easy to spot because of the format and because all letters are in block capitals. European postcode formats vary but they are normally prefixed by a country initial which is also always written as a block capital. So far so good, then we get to US addresses. You have ZIP codes which are all numeric, and you often put the state initials in the address as well - in block capitals - can you guess where this theory is heading? If USA was written in clear block capitals as the last line of the address the system might spot it but written in full in mixed case, probably not. And then it would either reject the card for human examination or hunt for something it thought it knew.So it could get missorted OR thrown out to the humans -and then we are back to the cheaper Philippino theory.

So now we need an experiment. Someone to post two cards to the same address. One with USA in clear capitals, and one with United States of America written in mixed case handwriting, both as the last line and neither with state intitials.

Posted by
8889 posts

Steve, I read somewhere the British Post Office preferred you NOT to put country initials.
The reason is if I, for example, posted something to (which is the recommended format by most post offices in Europe):
Langstrasse 99
CH 4000 Basel
Switzerland

The Post Office automatic reading equipment is liable to send it to postcode CH4 (Chester).
Similarly if I prefix "GB" on a British postcode in something I send from outside the UK:
99 Long Street
GB W1A 1AA London
Grossbrittannien

The equipment is liable to read that as "G8" and send it to Glasgow 8!

Posted by
4734 posts

My earlier suspicion above still looks a strong possibility, ie they have been routed as international economy (which is the old 'surface' mail which takes several weeks at the least and could pass through anywhere) instead of international standard (old 'airmail', takes about a week to ten days, goes direct). As to why there could be several factors - including whether this is an error through misreading of the address, absence of airmail sticker etc or if the correct postage rate has not actually been paid.

Posted by
3 posts

Wish I could insert a photo here
My Tower of London postcard had the word London blacked out with a marker; several other blacked out words that were part of the postcard- not anything I wrote. My souvenir stamps are ruined with the Philippine post sticker.

I sent a complaint letter to Royal Mail - which is now a private enterprise.
I'll be sending a complaint to the Philippines as well. There's no reason for them to mark up / tamper with the contents of my mail.

Posted by
1 posts

I thought I was going crazy, but finding this thread was helpful in seeing I hadn't. I posted postcards to the US from Edinburgh and Glasgow the first week of July '17 and only this week are people starting to receive them. Many are still missing. Way past the "up to six week" marker listed on the Royal Mail's rubric for international mail arrival dates. All postcards were redirected through the Philippines, and all with random black marker "censoring" parts of the messages I wrote or crossing out the name of the city or historic site that was printed on the card. (I.e. Tower of London had its "London" redacted.) Even a line I drew to separate the address from the message was "censored". Like the others on this post discussing arrival and censorship issues of postcards, I too used the beautiful souvenir stamps offered from the Tower of London gift shop and Scottish Trust gift shop in Edinburgh.

I am fully behind one poster's movement to complain to the Royal Mail. Also the English and Scottish Trusts need to be complained to. They are the ones hawking the stamps. They are most likely the root of the problem.

I have never had this issue before and I am furious. Personal messages have been tampered with by another government. Copyrighted material has been tampered with by another government. When I had the opportunity to be abroad a few years ago, I tried to be as diligent as possible about making sure all postcards I sent had "airmail" stickers or handwritten on the card, but there were times where I forgot. And they still got to the US within two weeks with no Philippines/redaction issues. I did forget the airmail stickers this time, but I'm not so sure that was the core of the problem. Heck, the letter my friend sent me from Australia several weeks after my UK trip didn't have "airmail" on it and it made it to me in the US in a week. And it was letter! I really think it's the souvenir shops's stamps that were the problem.

Anyway - thanks to the original poster and the list of respondents for making me feel more sane about this issue. I'm glad we're not alone. (Doesn't make this issue okay, but glad we're not alone. Our poor family and friends who have to receive our messages like this.)

Posted by
631 posts

"They are most likely the root of the problem." actually the root of the problem seems to be at the international mail sorting centre in Slough near Heathrow Airport. My enquiries so far have found that all international mail is sifted out at local sorting centres (where it receives the post mark) and is sent to Slough. Here the machines have another go at it and readable US addresses are presorted into US regions (which may be the first digit of the ZIP code) and are sent direct to a sorting centre in that region rather everything being shipped to New York or some other abitrary US location.

As for the redaction? Has anyone had anything with the marks covering anything other than words, eg logos or blank space?

Posted by
4734 posts

One possible slightly off the wall explanation for the covering up of such words as London, England etc is to avoid some automatic reader down the line of picking this up and routing the card back there. Not clear of course what agency is doing this part.

Posted by
8889 posts

Real British stamps have Betty Windsor's head on them (click for photo). Accept no substitutes.
I think a British person would have complained if they were given non-Royal Mail stamps. Sounds a bit like the DCC problem.

(P.S.for those foreigner's who don't know, Betty Windsor lives with her husband Phil the Greek in Buck House)

Posted by
7695 posts

This is fascinating!! And some great detective work from some of the Forum members here. At least now, people are armed with the knowledge that there is some hope of avoiding the Philippines-routed postcards -- purchase stamps only at a regulation post office!

Posted by
7695 posts

This is fascinating!! And some great detective work from some of the Forum members here. At least now, people are armed with the knowledge that there is some hope of avoiding the Philippines-routed postcards -- purchase stamps only at a regulation post office!

Posted by
1 posts

Hi there, I had the same problem when I sent postcards from Edinburgh to Germany in July. They have just started to arrive, coming from the Philippines. The stamp was covered with some Philippine postal mark, and all references on the postcard to the UK were blackened. I then did some Google search on German websites, and that is the explanation I found: I certainly did buy the stamps in a souvenir shop. Apparently, these stamps are not issued by Royal Mail, but by something called UK Mail. This mail is apparently sorted out, then shipped to the Philippines and from there sent to its final destination. By the way: The sorting was apparently not quite accurate because of the 5 postcards I sent, one reached Germany within two days ...

Posted by
12970 posts

I sent 4 cards home to SF from London, the last one, as stated above, sent on the 7 July, all had proper postage with an airmail sticker affixed bought from the Royal Mail post office at Kings Cross, with USA written on each card, all cards arrived within 5 days,ie, none was diverted to the Philippines, none looked like anything out of the ordinary

Posted by
4734 posts

UK Mail is actually owned by Deutsche Post but UniversalMail UK is the more likely culprit, as outlined above.

UniversalMail's website is interesting in that there is no indication at all as to timescales of delivery. It is more a site for selling pretty sticky labels.

They have been around for some years, but I wonder if they have stepped up marketing their service to tourist attractions.

Posted by
2 posts

Hello,
I have found this blog and this describes exactly the same thing that happened to me: I have sent 10 postcards from Edinburgh in August and so far only one has arrived....with a stamp of the Philippines covering up the original Scottish stamps and also all mentions of the names Scotland and Edinburgh were slashed out with black marker!
So it has nothing to do with the recipient being in the USA or no air mail sticker, it really depends on Universal Mail stamps, these were sold to us in the souvenir shop and I didn't check whether it was stamps from Royal Mail or not but now I checked with my friend who has received the postcard and they are definitely Universal Mail stamps!
I am thinking to file a complaint with Universal Mail.....this is such a ridiculous story, considering that the U.K. has a long tradition of reliable mail service!!

Posted by
2 posts

Ps. I should add to my previous post that the postcards where sent from Edinburgh to Germany and to Italy....

Posted by
2664 posts

Just back from the UK, sent several post cards with a £1.17 stamp (Queens picture on it) and a blue air mail sticker on them, all arrived within a week.

Posted by
737 posts

I'll add my two cents here. In June I mailed one postcard from London with a first class stamp because it was oversized. It arrived in the US in about 4 days. Eight other postcards cards were sent from Scotland a week or so later with stamps bought from souvenir places, and they are just being received, via the Philippines. There was some blacking out, but I don't have the cards in my possession, so can't check what it was. Thanks to all for figuring this out, it did lead to some consternation!

Maybe the Rick Steves Great Britain books can add a warning to future editions?

Posted by
12970 posts

I do recall that in July when I bought post cards from the souvenir stores, some did ask me if I wanted stamps with them (I already knew the price given to me at the Kings Cross post office) but always told them no. Now, I'm glad I did since all the cards mailed from London with proper postage from the KC post office arrived within a week, as expected.

Posted by
115 posts

I posted a couple times on this thread about my postal experience involving postcards mailed from Scotland. I got a private message from a richard smirke from the BBC in the UK. wanting to talk with me about my experience. Did anyone else get similar?

Posted by
3 posts

I sent 2 postcards from London to the USA in August,2017. Bought stamps at a convenience/ news store. I asked for stamps for postcards to the USA. The postcards arrived 2 months later! I assumed stamps I bought were airmail, of course, not being familiar with UK stamps, I had no idea what I was buying. I mailed the postcards in a red royal mailbox. I have photo of the stamps from postcard receives if I can post an attachment to this site, well, at least the postcards arrived, I thought they were lost in the mail!

Posted by
3 posts

I sent 2 postcards from London to the USA in August,2017. Bought stamps at a convenience/ news store. I asked for stamps for postcards to the USA. The postcards arrived 2 months later! I assumed stamps I bought were airmail, of course, not being familiar with UK stamps, I had no idea what I was buying. I mailed the postcards in a red royal mailbox. I have photo of the stamps from postcard receives if I can post an attachment to this site, well, at least the postcards arrived, I thought they were lost in the mail!

Posted by
12970 posts

@ Carol...I believe I did too. I ignore it after I read it since I bought Royal Mail stamps.

Posted by
28098 posts

mdenhen

It is always better on these Forums not to include personal information about yourself, including especially your email address. Private Messages (PMs) are really easy to do here and keep your details private.

Not only the good guys are on the internet. You can tell that by the number of fake postings we get selling fake passports and counterfeit money and cards.

Keep yourself to yourself.....

Posted by
28098 posts

Carol and Fred, that person has violated the Guidelines. They may be real or they may not....

I hope you reported them

Posted by
4734 posts

Richard Smirke really is a journalist - seems to be a freelance but does a fair amount for the BBC, mainly in the North West. Of course it could always be someone posing as him though.